A brand new day for Australia dawns as it says “sorry”.

Quote of the day: “This is the corner piece, we can complete the puzzle from here”- Mick Dodson.

It has taken the ballot box to achieve what a decade of activism has not. Today Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, before the assembled parliament, delivered the apology to the Stolen Generations.

For posterity and for this historic moment for all Australians the full text is recorded here.

“Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.”

It was almost as if we, as a nation, had been holding our collective breath :

Here! Here!

When asked to show support for the motion the parliamentarians in the House stood as one. The motion had been passed unanimously. Uniquely, the leader of the opposition and the prime Minister together presented a gift from the indigenous people to the Speaker of the House.

All rose as one in a standing ovation for the parliamentary motion that had so long been anticipated. There was applause, there were tears and there was a sigh of relief.

The Prime Minister has pointed to where things will go from here, speaking about a bipartisan approach to improving the situation for indigenous people.

There seem to be no words left to express our elation on this truly special day but here is one last quote:

“This is a day of open hearts” – Paul Keating (Who commissioned the ‘Stolen Generations Report’)
For those who live in other lands I offer three wonderful sources to give an understanding of the emotions of our indigenous people.

Phillip Noyce’s moving film: “Rabbit Proof Fence

Archie Roach’s song: “Took the children away

Stuart Rintoul’s book: The Wailing-A National Black Oral History.

~ by abstraktbiblos on Wednesday, 13 February, 2008.

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